New Identity Politics and the 2012 Collapse of Nepal's Constituent Assembly: When the dominant becomes ‘other’

CNSUK's Researcher Dr Krishna Adhikari and Advisor Prof David N. Gellner's paper on New Identity Politics is published in Modern Asia Studies. 

This article explores the politicization of ethnicity in Nepal since 1990. In particular it looks at how ideas of indigeneity have become increasingly powerful, leading to Nepal becoming the first and—to date—only Asian country to have signed International Labour Organization Convention number 169 (hereafter ILO 169). The rise of ethnic politics, and in particular the reactive rise of a new kind of ethnicity on the part of the ‘dominant’ groups—Bahuns (Brahmans) and Chhetris (Kshatriyas) - is the key to understanding why the first Constituent Assembly in Nepal ran out of time and collapsed at the end of May 2012. This collapse occurred after four years and four extensions of time, despite historic and unprecedentedly inclusive elections in April 2008 and a successful peace process that put an end to a ten-year civil war.